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Time Sensitive Emergency – Trauma

WaaahYah! WaaahYah! WaaaYah!…

By Dr. Stu Willis, Emergency Department Director

The sudden sound of a vehicle crash…the sight of a bloody leg from a chain saw encounter…the thump, thump, thump of granny pivoting down the stairs…these all produce instant fear, anxiety, and worry for an episode of serious injury.

As the first Pacific Northwest hospital to be awarded the Critical Access Hospital designation by the federal government, Boundary Community Hospital has always had an essential role in meeting the healthcare needs of Bonners Ferry and the surrounding county.  With the advent of the Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency System, the hospital is working towards official TSE Designations by meeting the stringent criteria as a Level IV Trauma, Level III Stroke, and Level II STEMI (Heart Attack) Center.

The 2014 Idaho Legislature approved and funded a plan to develop a statewide Time Sensitive Emergency System of care that includes three of the top five causes of death in Idaho: trauma, stroke, and heart attack.  Studies show that organized systems of care improve patient outcomes, reduce the frequency of preventable death, and improve the quality of life of the patient.  The goals of the TSE system are to decrease mortality and improve patient recovery by providing the rapid movement of patients to an appropriate center for definitive treatment.

Worldwide there are eleven deaths every minute due to trauma – that’s 5.8 million fatalities a year, and over one million are the result of motor vehicle crashes. Wearing seatbelts, not driving after drinking, and not driving while distracted (texting, etcetera) are major preventive efforts that have already shown to have a dramatic positive impact.

Trauma is the fourth leading cause of death in Idaho, and the third leading cause in Boundary County. It is estimated that by 2020, one out of every ten persons will die from an injury.

But short of death, other major disabilities result from trauma. For example, various degrees of brain injury, whether a concussion or a massive bleeding injury, occur in the U.S. some 1.7 million times per year. These injuries result in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations, over 52,000 deaths, and about 90,000 cases of severe disability each year. Protective headgear, such as helmets, help some, but preventing the injury in the first place is even more important.

Each year 10 million children visit U.S. emergency departments due to an injury – that’s one visit for every six children…and 10,000 are fatal. “Childproofing” the home and other areas children visit, and simple careful supervision are paramount to ensuring child safety.

For the lay person encountering an injury case, remember the A-B-Cs – Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Ensure the airway is open, but don’t move the neck around as there could be a major neck fracture. Assist with breathing, if necessary, and control ongoing bleeding with direct pressure.

According to Emergency Department Director, Stu Willis, MD, “As a rural community hospital, we have an obligation to provide services that improve survivability. However, we need the community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of time-sensitive emergencies so they can get help as fast as possible, whether it’s the paramedics with advanced life support training, the hospital emergency department staff, or Life Flight transporting a patient to a higher level of care facility such as a major trauma center. In addition, prevention education is a key and vital component of this, especially in regards to injuries and major trauma.”

“At Boundary Community Hospital, our goal is to provide the community with timely healthcare services that are second to none, whether it’s emergency services or long-term care, inpatient or outpatient,” says Hospital CEO Craig Johnson.

To introduce the community to the Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency Initiative, Dr. Willis is speaking with community and church groups about “What You Need to Know About Trauma, Stroke, and Heart Attack.”  If you would like to have Dr. Willis speak with your group, call 267-6912 to get on the calendar.

The TSE System could potentially save 244 lives annually in Idaho according to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare.

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